Scrivener LogoCopywriters are paid to write.
Not organize, not market themselves, not read, but to write.
You may charge for other activities… but everyone cares about only one thing — the result of your copy.
So when you spend 15 hours of non-paid work time writing the greatest blog post ever for your blog, that’s 15 hours you spend not making money.
Of course there are benefits to writing that blog post, but what if you could write it faster?
What if you cut time off your writing process?
Would you finish more jobs, make more money, and market yourself a little more?
That’s what I’ve been thinking during my first month & a half as a full-time freelancer. Luckily, I’ve been using an amazing program called “Scrivener” for over a year now — and it has some amazing capabilities.
To take advantage of those capabilities, I’ve decided to re-introduce myself to many of the program’s features and functions and write a post about it.
Let’s learn to become more efficient!
1. Segment Sections of Your Blog Post
Long-form writing is winning out in the SEO game, but quality long-form posts between 3000-5000 words can be hard to write.
With the pressure to deliver quality articles and quick — pictures are thrown into your word editor, links are anchored straight from chrome, all while scarcely keeping track of where it’s all coming from.
Sometimes you have to reorder blog posts — which is time consuming as hell.
Fortunately, Scrivener’s “Binder” section can divvy up the work into understandable sections:
Scrivener binder segmentation
Doing this come with a few benefits:
A. You are now dealing with manageable pieces of work.
B. Inherently, segmentation leads to a task oriented work-flow. (Complete section 1, then 2, then 3, etc…)
C. Completing tasks motivates us to do more work.
D. You have access to all your information in one place
In the future, I plan on using the template I have above as an all-in-one blogging system.
Until then, it is a useful tool for setting up projects.
2. Gather Your Research
Organizing research blows.
Personally, I have had to back track for hours to recreate media and more. This especially sucks when you don’t know where anything is. Your time disappears into a black vortex and DING!!! Your work day is over.
Again, that’s spending more time on non-paid tasks, something we are trying to avoid.
Keep everything in one place:
Organize Your Research
3. Mark Completion Status With Scrivener Icons
Projects can seem impossibly large. Its alarming.
I have approximately 39,350 words to write in the next 30 days. (I know, I know, why did I do that to myself!)
It will stress you out, if you let it.
Having a way to measure progress is great to lessen the pressure of deadlines and overload.
The first way to measure progress is through labels.
Personally, I use green flags to mark finished rough drafts, blue flags for finished second drafts, and purple flags for final drafts.
Looks like a download bar!
Using Flags to Mark Completion
This project might seem far from completion, but according to the flags, I’m almost 50% done.
This keeps me motivated and on track. As well, it keeps me from back tracking too much (which takes a ton of time with little benefits).
4. Set Session and Draft Targets
Another way to keep track of progress is through Scrivener’s project target feature.
1. Track word count progress on your draft.
2. Track work count progress on your session.
3. Use popups to let you know that you have reached your goal like this:
Scrivener’s Pop-up Word count session feature
To use this feature, go to the top of your screen, click “project”, and locate the “show project Targets” tab:
Show Project Targets tab
This prompt will pop-up and show your total word count goal and your progress:
Word count for Session & draft targets
Click the options button, and Scrivener will bring you here:
Show Target Options Tab
Make sure “show target notifications” is checked.
Press okay and now you are good to go! You don’t have to use this tool, but I find it helpful when completing rough drafts.
Sometimes, when you are 4 hours in your writing session and 1000 words away from your session target, a yellow progress bar is all you need to plow through the rest.
5. Block Out Distractions
By far Scrivener’s most important feature!
Scrivener has a built-in composition mode that keeps you focused.
Instead of having access to Internet tabs, notebook tabs, and research — you can focus on writing a single page.
Neil Gaiman, among many other writers, professes the utility of being without distractions — and this is what Scrivener helps provide.
Scrivener Composition Feature
Personally, I wish they made the background pitch-black, but it’s still an amazing feature.
To use this feature, go to the top of your Scrivener application and click “view”, then find the “Enter Composition Mode” option:
Enter Composition Mode
6. Use the Split Screen Option to Write Your Rough Draft
I love using Scrivener’s split screen feature for two tasks.
The first one is to write a rough draft with your outline right beside it.
No need to switch tabs, look at your notebook, or shuffle throw materials. It’s all on one screen.
Splitscreen option (outline)
Maintaining a steady writing pace helps gets my juices flowing, and I think that this is the same for many other writers.
To use this option, click the toggle split button in the top right of the screen under the inspector button:
Use split-screen option
7. Use the Split Screen Option to Rewrite
The split screen function is also great for rewriting.
Just plop your rough draft beside your rewrite:
Rewrite Using Split Screen Option
8. Create Comments Using the Inspector
Finishing a rough draft is tough.
Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, wrote a wonderful section on writing these monsters, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper.”
That’s why I use comments.
Scrivener’s comments function allows writers to leave notes on their work. Instead of back tracking and editing, write and leave comments on things you notice as you go.
It’s faster and more efficient.
Personally, my first draft will suck no matter how much I edit during the process — the only chance of creating quality is through subsequent edits and rewrites. (Even then I’m skeptical!)
To use the comment function, highlight the text you wish to comment on.
Then click the yellow speech icon at the top of the screen:
This will open up your inspector where you can leave notes:
Don’t stop writing. Leave notes and maintain your writing flow.
9. Create a Project Template
Different projects require different organizational structures.
The logistics of writing an email campaign verses a long-form blog post are much different.
When you buy Scrivener, it comes with several ready-made project templates:
Unfortunately, Scrivener doesn’t have great templates for us copywriters, but you can make your own.
I highly recommend this as it is really easy to do, and It will save you time from messing with your binder too much.
Let’s make a template:
1. Click the file buttons, and start a new project:
Start New Project
2. Click the blank option from the template selection:
Click blank template Scrivener
3. Create the template the exact way you want it. If you are a blogger, here’s a downloadable blogging template. For my personal template that I use for creating long-form content, you can copy it down below:
Personal Long-form Template
4. After you have created a workable template, save it:
Now you have your very own template to work with that is guaranteed to save you tons of time.
10. Use the Screening Feature to View Your Project
Segmenting your work in Scrivener leads to one downside, not being able to view your work as a whole.
Fortunately, Scrivener’s scrivening option let’s you view your work as a whole.
To do this, highlight each section of your post:
Highlight binder sections
Then click the scrivening option at the top of your screen:
Now you can see all your work!
I’m sure I’ll find more hacks as my time becomes more constricted, but for now — these hacks improve my efficiency tremendously.
Scrivener gives copywriter’s the capability to organize information, track progress, leave notes, outline, and so much more.
I would even consider learning Scrivener as a valuable amazon product optimization copywriting skill that should be put on resumes.
Proper use of the program is infinitely better than any other writing process I have encountered (so far).
And I haven’t even entrenched myself in all this program has to offer.
Although, there is a mildly steep learning curve to Scrivener, but it all pays off when you begin to apply Scrivener’s capabilities to your work. As well, Scrivener has a great tutorial which takes 2-4 hours to complete.
It was fun to refresh my knowledge on this amazing writing application, and I hope it helps you with your work!